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Fiber: A Nutritional Hero

Reduced carbohydrate consumption has become a popular trend in recent years. Many people are skeptical about consuming carbohydrates because they believe that carbs are unhealthy and promote weight gain.  This can be very discouraging to those who enjoy having a diet that is full of variety.

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Fortunately not all carbohydrates are bad for your health. Most health and nutrition professionals are familiar with a particular class of carbohydrates that have many health benefits. This class is referred to as complex carbohydrates.  Complex carbohydrates are different from the carbohydrates that are found in foods like sugar and rice. These often raise the amount of sugar/glucose in the body. On the contrary, complex carbohydrates exist in fruits and vegetables and actually slow down the absorption of glucose! One of the most common complex carbohydrates is fiber.

What is Fiber?

Fiber is a plant-like substance which is not actually digested by the body. Although it is not digested, it works wonders in the digestive process.  Fiber works within the intestines to slow down the absorption of digested substances like sugar. By doing this, the body becomes less clogged and produces more bile or fecal matter. This means that there is less waste present in the body.

Health Benefits Associated With Fiber

Fiber is linked to many health improvements. For example, those who suffer from high cholesterol can benefit greatly from adding fiber into their diet. Having a lower cholesterol level automatically decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke.   Fiber also slows down glucose absorption. This decreases the risk of  type 2 diabetes and hypoglycemia. Those with diabetes and hypoglycemia often have higher incidents of obesity.

Who Needs Fiber?

Everyone should consume around 20-35 grams of fiber each day. However those who suffer from constipation should be careful when consuming fiber. It is important to drink plenty of water as you increase your fiber intake. If you do not normally consume a lot of fiber then increase your amount slowly.  In the beginning your body may experience mild stomach discomfort. This should go away shortly after your body has adjusted. If the discomfort last longer than a few days, see a health care professional.  Elderly individuals may want to include a little extra fiber in their diet because of its digestive benefits.

Where Can I Find Fiber?
Fiber is very easy to find. Most fruits, nuts and vegetables contain fiber. Try some of these fiber rich foods.
  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Bran flakes
  • Apples
  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Black eyed peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Shredded wheat cereal
If you are having trouble fitting more fiber into your diet then try adding it to breakfast. Many popular breakfast foods contain loads of fiber and are quick and easy to prepare.

Other Facts About Fiber

  • There are some important things that everyone should be aware of when increasing their fiber consumption.
  • Fiber is available in supplement form.
  • All fiber is classified into two groups, soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (does not dissolve in water).
  • Fiber reduces the appetite by creating a full feeling in the body.

Sametra Gardner has been writing professionally since 2010, with her work appearing on various health and nutrition related websites. She specializes in writing about nutrition and health-related content. Sametra holds a Bachelor of Science in food and nutrition from Alcorn State University. Her passion for the food and nutrition industry began as a young adult. While attending college she witnessed first hand the impact that food service and nutrition can have on others. She was inspired to learn more and became a health/nutrition writer. Gardner desires to increase food and nutrition awareness of others in her community by spreading the knowledge, and wisdom that she has gained through years of education and hands on experience.


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